This is the first of our build-up series leading to ONE FC’s debut in Metro Manila, Philippines this August 31. Each article of the series will serve as an opinionated primer to the upcoming event of what is touted as “Asia’s largest MMA organization,” billed as “One Fighting Championship: “Pride of a Nation.”
Consistent with its champion vs. champion formula, ONE FC: “Pride of a Nation” pits current DREAM bantamweight champion Bibiano Fernandes of Brazil against his Australian counterpart, Cage Fighting Championship’s king Gustavo Falciroli for its main event.
Both are top-notch Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belts who hold impressive win-loss records as MMA champions.
The many-time BJJ world champion Fernandes boasts an 11-3 record, having won three straight matches, with the last one a stunning KO over Antonio Banuelos to clinch the DREAM bantamweight belt last December. He is also noted for dealing an armbar loss to the two-time Greco-Roman wrestling world champion and former Bellator featherweight title-holder Joe Warren at DREAM 11 in 2009.
Falciroli, in the other corner, carries a 12-3-2 record, and is likewise coming fresh from a stoppage win: a rear-naked choke victory over former Rising One featherweight champ Soo Chul Kim just last February. The naturalized Australian of Brazilian descent is a certified finisher of 10 fights, with seven wins by submission and three by KO.
During the press conference held in Metro Manila last July 18, this writer saw a huge difference in bulk between the two protagonists, with Falciroli appearing to belong to a much heavier weight class than Fernandes (unless the former padded his business suit). It remains to be seen if the Australian’s apparent advantage in mass will matter in any way come their fight night.
ONE FC has an edge with its champion-versus-champion theme.
The stakes are definitely higher when a stage is set to determine not only who the better fighter is, but also who the superior champion between two MMA worlds is: the king of one international fight promotion versus the ruler of another promotion.
This champion-versus-champion concept is one of the reasons that makes ONE FC tick; it’s the closest the MMA universe has to a title unification bout – except that it doesn’t award a new world title, much less declare an undisputed MMA champion of the world.
Still, it’s absolutely for the good of the fighters, fans and the sport in general to know who really comes closest to being the best in the world. Though no new additional title is proffered, just knowing which top fighter is actually the “first among equals” is truly gratifying. (That being said, yours truly believes that ONE FC has an open invitation to all credible and internationally-renowned MMA promotions to hold matches for their champions, as the Highlander preaches that “There can only be ‘ONE.’” I bet ONE FC has the resources to compensate any champion to fight in its arena, as long as he and his mother organization oblige.)
This kind of match is a sort of measuring stick to gauge which stable has the deeper talent pool (by association), in this case between Japan’s DREAM and Australia’s CFC, by pitting each organization’s best representative against the other’s.
While Fernandes and Falciroli’s upcoming performance may not necessarily reflect the true caliber of their co-fighters from their respective promotions, whoever takes the win at the end of this month can still proclaim that his backyard unleashed the dog with the bigger bite.
Updates: Aside from Andrei Arlovski vs. Tim Sylvia and Jens Pulver vs. Eric Kelly, the other following matches have been confirmed:
Phil Baroni versus Rodrigo Ribeiro, Eduard “Landslide” Folayang vs. Felipe Enomoto, Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon vs. Soo Chul Kim, Rolles Gracie vs. Tony “the Gun” Bonello, Igor Gracie vs. Jung Hwan Cha, Gregor Gracie vs. Nicholas “The Apprentice” Mann.
Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki and Renato “Babalu” Sobral’s opponents are yet to be named.
Today’s article was written by Karlo Silverio III Sevilla.